Sawyer Seminar Series to host free screening of 'Four Days in May' on Sept. 19

September 14, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — “Four Days in May,” a documentary by Deborah Thomas, Junior “Gabu” Wedderburn and Deanne M. Bell, will be shown at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 19, in 113 Carnegie Building on Penn State's University Park campus. The screening and the question-and-answer session with Thomas that follows are both free and open to the public.

“Four Days in May” is an experimental documentary that juxtaposes archives related to the “Tivoli Incursion” that took place in Jamaica in May 2010. During the incursion, Jamaican security forces entered West Kingston to arrest Christopher Coke, who was wanted for extradition to the United States on gun and drug-related charges. At least 75 civilians were killed during the operation.

Thomas also has curated a multimedia exhibit related to the incursion, “Bearing Witness: Four Days in West Kingston" at the University of Pennsylvania, where she is the R. Jean Brownlee Professor of Anthropology. Thomas is the author of “Political Life in the Wake of the Plantation:  Entanglement, Witnessing, Repair,” “Exceptional Violence: Embodied Citizenship in Transnational Jamaica,” and “Modern Blackness: Nationalism, Globalization, and the Politics of Culture in Jamaica,” and she is co-editor of “Globalization and Race: Transformations in the Cultural Production of Blackness.” Thomas also is co-director and co-producer of “Bad Friday: Rastafari after Coral Gardens” with John L. Jackson Jr. and Wedderburn, a documentary that chronicles the history of violence in Jamaica through the eyes of its most iconic community — Rastafari — and shows how people use their recollections of the Coral Gardens “incident” in 1963 to imagine new possibilities for the future. She has published extensively in peer-reviewed journals.

The screening of “Four Days in May” and Thomas’ visit are a part of the Racial Disposability and Cultures of Resistance Sawyer Seminar Series sponsored by the Penn State Department of African American Studies. The seminar seeks to identify and examine ways that marginalized racial subjects in the Americas disrupt the logic of disposability creatively, politically and intellectually, using practices of organized resistance and an everyday politics of refusal. It is funded largely through a grant provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

In addition to visiting the series’ website, additional information about the Sawyer Seminar Series can be obtained by contacting Cynthia Young, associate professor and head of the Department of African American Studies, at

  • Deborah Thomas (Sawyer Seminar)

    Deborah Thomas, creator of "Four Days in May," will visit Penn State on Sept. 19.

    IMAGE: photo courtesy University of Pennsylvania
Last Updated September 14, 2018